Lucille Ball ‘Scared’ During Communist Party Scandal

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  • Lucille Ball was accused of being a communist in 1953 by the media.
  • Her daughter Lucie Arnaz said she was “scared” of losing her career and that Desi Arnaz “took charge.”
  • Desi Arnaz really did phone former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who publicly cleared Ball.

In an interview for Amazon’s new documentary “Lucy and Desi,” Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s daughter Lucie Arnaz provides insight into what things were like for the Arnaz family in 1953, when the Los Angeles Herald-Express accused Ball of being a communist by running the headline “Lucille Ball a Red” in red ink.

Lucie said in an interview for “Lucy and Desi” that her mother “was scared that people wouldn’t believe” she wasn’t really a communist.

“This could destroy everything that they had,” Lucie recalled in the documentary interview. “And my father took charge that week.”

Ball had classified herself as a member of the communist party when she registered to vote in 1936. Ball’s brother Fred said in archive footage shown in the documentary that he and his sister “did register communist” in order to “pacify” their grandfather, Fredrick Charles Hunt, who raised them and “was always for the working man.”

Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Michael Ochs/Getty


In 1953, Ball was interviewed by both the FBI and The House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was created so that members of Congress could investigate “disloyalty to the country by private citizens, public figures and organizations suspected of having fascist or Communist ties ,” according to The Wrap.

“They interviewed her about it at great length and they cleared her,” Lucie said in the documentary about her mother’s experience with The House Committee on Un-American Activities.

But that didn’t stop the Los Angeles Herald-Express from running their “Lucille Ball a Red” headline. Lucie, who was only about two years old at the time, said Arnaz took matters into his own hands to protect his wife.

I Love Lucy

“I Love Lucy” starred Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

CBS Films/CBS Television Distribution


“He invited all the press into our house and he told them exactly what my mother had done, that she had never been involved in the communist party,” Lucie said.

Arnaz actually took clearing his wife’s name to an extra level, as depicted in Aaron Sorkin’s 2021 film, “Being the Ricardos.” He invited members of the press to a live taping of an episode of “I Love Lucy” and got the director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover “on the phone,” Lucie said in the new documentary.

Lucie recalled Hoover telling Arnaz over the phone, in earshot of the studio audience, “Your wife is cleared of any charges. 100 percent clear.”

Arnaz then introduced Ball to the audience, and according to Lucie, her father delivered one of his most famous lines then: “The only thing red about her was her hair, and even that was not legitimate.” According to Lucie, Ball received a standing ovation from the audience at the time.

“Lucy and Desi” is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

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